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gold2012
Jan. 13, 2011, 10:02 AM
We have an 8 y.o. Irish Horse who is built level at best. He hs the typical Irish head, long neck that joins low into his chest. He is short coupled, and big. 17.1 and somewhat heavy, though certainly not extreme.

My daughter is 5'10", weighs about 140 and has ridden for 20 years now. She is extremely STRONG, freakishly so. She has very good abs, legs. She has a tall seat.

I have worked with dressage horses, coaches, trainers and students many decades, and most of the training tips I give her, don't seem to be doing what we need them to do.

The horse hangs. He hangs when he is engaged, when by some miracle we get him engaged, he hangs on a loose rein, he hangs he hang he hangs. She engages him, as soon as he starts to hang, throws him away, does he carry, oh no, he just drops the head right on down, and hangs on what rein she gave him, put him on a belt buckle, he will drop down to the ground, kick him forward...forward, he is lazy. We love him dearly, but we tease him routinely he is the only Irish we know that would make a wonderful western pleasure horse.

Transitiions, lunging, we have tried most everything, and in a year, of trying to be consistant in work outs, transitions, poles, he still hangs. She rides him in a loose ring snaffle, has tried a bouchet, rides him in a mylar combo for x/c, which prevents him from hanging or inverting to some degree.

He is currently doing Preliminary level events. Now, for some positives, he likes lateral movements, not as heavy that way...go figure. He will score 8's on most anything lateral, and then as soon as we try to do a circle, or go straight, guess what happens? Yup, heavy heavy heavy.

Canter is about the only gait he doesn't hang terribly in. He has a gorgeous canter....and jumping, thankfully, he uses that..

ANY suggestions? She works with a trainer, actually a couple, and the two who have been on the horse are about as frustrated as she is. One has suggested a double bridle, so that when he starts t get heavy, she immediately can fix it with minimum fuss, another says he needs to learn to go forward much better first...UGH..THANKS SO MUCH ALL.

Eclectic Horseman
Jan. 13, 2011, 10:13 AM
Reschool the half halt.

Here's how-

Everytime he starts to hang, slow him right down to a halt. Go forward again, until he starts to hang, then bring him right down to a halt. Repeat over and over until you get more and more strides before he starts to hang. Eventually, you should be able to just bring him back in a half halt instead of a full halt and he will stop hanging.

It will take quite a long time and a lot of patience.
Good luck.

alibi_18
Jan. 13, 2011, 10:18 AM
Since he seems to like doing lateral work and doesn't hang much while doing so, I would suggest you concentrate doing lateral work!!! :D

Actually, shoulder-in, haunches-in, leg yields, half-pass are really good, if not the best!, to help self carriage. Just work on that. On straight lines, on circle...all the time.

And even in the warm up or at all time, I would encourage you to work this horse in a shoulder fore position at ALL time.

And yes, he will probably need to learn to go a bit more forward in order to carry himself properly and not use your daughter hands/arms/shoulders as a head rest! When he hangs, push him forward and then practice your half halts, like Ecletic horseman said.

Since you are doing Prelim with him, I must believe that he is physically built for the job and muscled up for it? Tired or weaker horses, no matter how big they are, will lean on the bit as a result.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 13, 2011, 10:33 AM
My mare is very much like this, only shorter and with a higher-set neck. She LOVES to lean. It's easier for her not have to carry herself.

Here's what has helped.

First, fix the downhill build. I use Epona shoes (since they are about the thickest you can get), and Vibram pads. It adds about 3/4 of an inch in front. It makes a HUGE difference. The mare goes from dumpy downhill-QH to nice suspension and collection (working 2nd/3rd). Absolutely feels like a different horse.

Then get a pair of web reins, and no gloves for the rider. That will give you a much better feel of when he starts to lean. You also can't hold back against him.

The best bit I have found for my mare to prevent the leaning is a copper JP oval loose ring. It's nice and fat, so doesn't cut into the tongue as much (because with this mare, that makes things worse). She prefers a mullen, but she also likes to lean more on the mullen.

And then every time the horse leans, you go back to the lateral work, wiggle the inside rein, lift the hands up and forward, whatever you can do to stop the leaning. With my mare, putting my hands up and forward helps a ton. Think saddleseat up and forward. She suddenly softens, lifts her back, engages, and is nice. I also do some neck stretches from the saddle after a nice walk warmup, so her neck is more supple. Really concentrate on CORRECT bending.

Now, I did have to put my mare in a double for a week or two to break the cycle of leaning. But once she stopped leaning so badly, and I could ride off just the snaffle rein, she went back into the snaffle. I have also ridden in a double before, and she has been ridden in one occasionally too.

gold2012
Jan. 13, 2011, 10:36 AM
He could probably lift a mack truck....we had him fit enough that he won a most fit horse award, and you know how tough that is with an irish who has a core temp one degree higher than most? And he still hung. He just thinks his head is too big for him to have to carry it by himself....I am absolutely POSITIVE he thinks we are nuts, and that it is so much easier to be lazy and let us do the work...but he has got an absolutely WONDERFUL attitude about everything else...silly horses. Have passed on the tips so far. And we do tend to keep him doing lateral. THAT way he doesn't wear her totally out, but will keep working at that, and will sure give the reteaching half-halt a try as well.

ginger708
Jan. 13, 2011, 10:50 AM
Reschool the half halt.

Here's how-

Everytime he starts to hang, slow him right down to a halt. Go forward again, until he starts to hang, then bring him right down to a halt. Repeat over and over until you get more and more strides before he starts to hang. Eventually, you should be able to just bring him back in a half halt instead of a full halt and he will stop hanging.

It will take quite a long time and a lot of patience.
Good luck.

I just learned a "new to me" exercise from one of the trainers I work with. My horse likes to hang /pull at the trot and canter. For the trot when my horse starts to pull I bring him to a very collected walk make him walk this way for a few strides and ask for trot again. If he pulls I go back to the collected walk, I do this a couple of times and then go back to trotting if he pulls again I think and ask for the collected walk without actually going back to the walk.

Very much the same as Eclectic Horseman's exercise in either case you are basically schooling the half halt. The Trainer that I work with believes that these issues need to be dealt with going forward at all times, other trainers believe that the halt done properly is still forward and that the halt give the rider an opportunity to regroup. I think you should use the method that worked best for the horse. Try both and see what gets better results.

The trouble in many cases of the horse hanging / pulling in my opinion is the strength of the rider and their ability to hold the horse. In essence the rider by being able to hold is giving the horse the resistance it needs to hang on the forehand and push through the aids.

My issue is that at times I try to fix this issue with strength, when a pulling or hanging issue is something that takes more of a finesse. Schooling the half-halt by either method stated above is a matter of finesse once you get to the part where you are asking for a halt / slowdown while keeping rhythm and not breaking gate is all feel and finesse. You have to have enough leg but not to much, and enough hand to balance it all out.

None of the exercises will work over night, but a horse that understands a half-halt will be a easier horse to ride. Also the rider will have the ability to rebalance the horse at any time when needed that will build the horses confidence and readability.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 13, 2011, 11:08 AM
The trouble in many cases of the horse hanging / pulling in my opinion is the strength of the rider and their ability to hold the horse. In essence the rider by being able to hold is giving the horse the resistance it needs to hang on the forehand and push through the aids.

My issue is that at times I try to fix this issue with strength, when a pulling or hanging issue is something that takes more of a finesse. Schooling the half-halt by either method stated above is a matter of finesse once you get to the part where you are asking for a halt / slowdown while keeping rhythm and not breaking gate is all feel and finesse. You have to have enough leg but not to much, and enough hand to balance it all out.

yes, yes, yes. I am pretty darned strong in my biceps, and I do tend to pull. That's why lifting the hands helps so much, because you can't pull like that. Unplant them from the withers!

Also, riding a horse who stops if you pull will help too :)

Ibex
Jan. 13, 2011, 11:21 AM
No suggestions, but it may be an Irish horse thing... we have one in the barn who is a "hanger" as well...!

rugbygirl
Jan. 13, 2011, 11:24 AM
I got a great piece of advice here about a heavy-headed hanger, which I will pass on in appreciation of the person who advised me :) I think it was Beasmom. Thanks!

Drop his head and drive him forward. The INSTANT he gets heavy, make him completely carry his own head. You daughter sounds like me, big and strong, probably not aware of quite how strong she is holding the rein (because it doesn't tire her as much as it would someone smaller and less strong.) My draft mare made me carry her head for her ALL THE DARN TIME. I even succumbed to pressure to bit her up, using a ridiculous high ported Kimberwicke thing...I think she laughed. I realized my folly and switched back to the French Link Dee and worked on disciplining myself to INSTANTLY drop her head when I felt the slightest pressure.

I also agree with mixing up transitions up and down, as well as quickly going to lateral work. A great exercise that I like is 20m circle at A/C, start a second circle but open it up, then take the quarter line, leg yield to the wall before the midway point, half halt in the corner, then start again at the other end. I hope I explained that right, my instructor calls it out for me usually :)

ginger708
Jan. 13, 2011, 11:29 AM
No I believe it is a horse and rider thing, mine is a basically a Hanoverian with some Trakhenher and Thoroughbred tossed into the mix. Ever so slightly downhill but very proportionate over all. When I take the time to concentrate and correct the problem he is the Aces. If I let myself go back to old habits he is a freight train with no conductor. Some horses no matter what breed are just going to need more guidance than others. Just like people, horses have different personalities and work habits.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 13, 2011, 12:09 PM
a few things that may help
a horse physically cannot hang on the bit if it is working correctly off it's hindquarters. even in stretching reaching they will be light in the hand when working off the hind.
so, that said, anytime this horse hangs he's not working his hiney.
The reason why he's better in lateral is because lateral suppleness encourages longitudinal suppleness. it's one of the best ways to warm a horse up. use that lateral to your advantage.

I've found horses get heavy for 4 reasons
1. they are bored
2. they are tired
3. they are sore
4. they are confused

by reschooling the half halt and doing lots of transitions (seriously, go watch the GM horsemanship clinic... he's schooling dressage warmups when not jumping) you will be able to scratch 1 and 4 off the list. if the problem persists it's 2 or 3.

mg
Jan. 13, 2011, 01:05 PM
Just wanted to pipe in and say I'm really appreciating this thread! If you switch the horse in the OP to a TBx who's actually built slightly uphill, it would be my pony to a T. I'll be looking into the suggested exercises as well. I'm relieved to hear I'm not the only one experiencing this!

ginger708
Jan. 13, 2011, 01:09 PM
I agree with Petstorejunkie the more correct a horse works the less forehand stuff will be going on. However for the horse to be correct the riders have to be correct. And unfortunately half-halt like sitting trot can be different from horse to horse. Also the horse has to learn what half-halt means.

So for a while you may have a horse that has to be half-halted every two or three strides. I think this is where Dressage riders get a bad reputation of micromanaging their horses. But this may be what it takes for the light-bulb to turn on in the horse but once they get it the half-halt is a great tool.

The other problem is that many trainers and riders that give advice will just yell half-halt or shoulder in or leg yield without completely explaining how to do these movements or give instruction and fail to make adjustments to the instruction to adapt to the individual horses needs.

I think for the OP repetition of half-halt training and lateral movements will be the answer here. Don't be afraid to half-halt at every stride if needed for a while. This type of riding is much harder on us than it is for the horse. I believe for us as riders sometimes we get lost in the pleasure of being on top of the horse and forget to give guidance until there is a problem that has to be addressed right away and then we as the rider are prone to make the wrong decision. Or at least that is how it works for me.

In reality for me I know that as soon as I feel a slight shift in my horses balance I should be right on top of it with a half-halt or shoulder fore. However is usually miss that and make the adjustment when my horse is completely on the forehand. I know that my New Years resolution is to be way more present in my ride and not to get so distracted.

gold2012
Jan. 13, 2011, 01:17 PM
Just got in. So I took some of the suggestions, and had her get on. We worked first on the half-halt to halt and back to walk, back and forth. She and I discovered....she lets him pull when she asks him to halt, and lets him take those few extra steps...bad girl. I put a halt to that...lol, play on words here. Then we went into more of a trot, to walk working with half halt. He started getting lighter....Then he got inverted...OKay buddy oh, let me get on him. Now please, I am 5'4", WAY too heavy to be on a horse, NO leg, in my daughter's VERY TINY dressage saddle...won't discuss that...awful site.

BUT I found out a few things...Yup, if I stay on top of the half halt, he doesn't pull...HMMM...is it a nagging thing we got going on here...

So I worked him about half hour, and then put her back on....We had 3 nice large, circles, completely in self-carriage. Not once thinking he could hang. When he hung, even for a second, I did a quick uplife, and put him right back into forward again. We put him away. It's going to be a process, cause she is very strong, and I don't think realizes as easiuly as I do, when he is starting to pull. He has gotten so use to using her for a headrest, it's not going to be easy to rememedy. THANK YOU ALL. The suggestions are wonderful.

jcotton
Jan. 13, 2011, 01:19 PM
Keep your lateral work interesting and challenging for both the horse and rider.
Do not do only 60 meters of lateral (S.I., H.I., Renvers,...). Do S.I for 5 strides, then reverse S.I for 10 strides, H.I. for 10 strides and back to S.I.
Change it all the time.
S.I down center line to 8-10 center opposite to the S.I and finished with H.P. of new bend.
Be creative, think of your own things to do in all gaits.
As well the half halt to keep hind end engaged and lessen the hanging front end.

lstevenson
Jan. 13, 2011, 02:37 PM
a few things that may help
a horse physically cannot hang on the bit if it is working correctly off it's hindquarters. even in stretching reaching they will be light in the hand when working off the hind.
so, that said, anytime this horse hangs he's not working his hiney.




I agree with this with one very important distinction. The horse may be working his hind quarters, but it's all pushing power rather than carrying power.

It takes true engagement to make a horse carry his weight behind, instead of using the riders hands as a fifth leg. And I strongly suspect that this horse is not truly engaged when you think he is. That's why he's lighter in lateral work. In lateral work you ARE getting increased engagement. So keep him busy with lots of lateral work interspersed into his other work, and read THIS (http://www.myvirtualeventingcoach.com/articles/20101221)




http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com (http://MyVirtualEventingCoach.com)

naturalequus
Jan. 13, 2011, 02:51 PM
We have an 8 y.o. Irish Horse who is built level at best. He hs the typical Irish head, long neck that joins low into his chest. He is short coupled, and big. 17.1 and somewhat heavy, though certainly not extreme.

My daughter is 5'10", weighs about 140 and has ridden for 20 years now. She is extremely STRONG, freakishly so. She has very good abs, legs. She has a tall seat.

I have worked with dressage horses, coaches, trainers and students many decades, and most of the training tips I give her, don't seem to be doing what we need them to do.

The horse hangs. He hangs when he is engaged, when by some miracle we get him engaged, he hangs on a loose rein, he hangs he hang he hangs. She engages him, as soon as he starts to hang, throws him away, does he carry, oh no, he just drops the head right on down, and hangs on what rein she gave him, put him on a belt buckle, he will drop down to the ground, kick him forward...forward, he is lazy. We love him dearly, but we tease him routinely he is the only Irish we know that would make a wonderful western pleasure horse.

Transitiions, lunging, we have tried most everything, and in a year, of trying to be consistant in work outs, transitions, poles, he still hangs. She rides him in a loose ring snaffle, has tried a bouchet, rides him in a mylar combo for x/c, which prevents him from hanging or inverting to some degree.

He is currently doing Preliminary level events. Now, for some positives, he likes lateral movements, not as heavy that way...go figure. He will score 8's on most anything lateral, and then as soon as we try to do a circle, or go straight, guess what happens? Yup, heavy heavy heavy.

Canter is about the only gait he doesn't hang terribly in. He has a gorgeous canter....and jumping, thankfully, he uses that..

ANY suggestions? She works with a trainer, actually a couple, and the two who have been on the horse are about as frustrated as she is. One has suggested a double bridle, so that when he starts t get heavy, she immediately can fix it with minimum fuss, another says he needs to learn to go forward much better first...UGH..THANKS SO MUCH ALL.

It takes two to pull, so personally, I would release all contact for awhile and go back to basics if the half-halt is not working. It is easy to become engaged in that tug-of-war and you don't even notice you're participating in a vicious circle until your arms are sore! With all contact dropped, bump with your hands (just simply by closing them, not by moving them) and give him a light push with your legs for forward impulsion when he gets too low but overall, do not worry about his head (well, to that extent obviously). You don't ride the head and it will come up as a result of his engagement. Then put him through various exercises that encourage self-carriage (circular work, transitions, poles, hills, lateral, etc etc). Next step would be to maintain light light contact whereby he cannot pull, and focus on exercises that force him to work beneath himself - lateral work, ground poles, hills, transitions, circular patterns, etc. Progressive Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping (Islay Auty). Work through the Training Scale, essentially.

We've got an OTTB like this - sounds conformationally (and temperament-wise) very much like your Irish, and used to lean on your hands. In fact, you took away your hands and he'd flounder about as if he didn't know where to put his feet :lol: I told him I wasn't there to tell him where to put his feet. That was HIS job :) He is no longer pulling and is now carrying himself beautifully, under two novices no less, using the above such exercises.

ETA: just read all the posts above mine, including the OP's update - super progress! I think the key is definitely staying on top of it, and especially lateral work. With the above-mentioned horse, whenever I did lateral work with him he would lift BEAUTIFULLY, sit back, and extend his front end. It is amazing to feel :p So, more lateral work. If the half-halts work on him when you stay consistent, then maybe you don't have to go back and work on the foundation, you just have to stay consistent with what you are doing!!

Furthering Eclectic's suggestion (tons of great suggestions here btw), if you make your horse a "hovercraft", he can't lean, because he is more engaged, ready for your next request :winkgrin: Lots of transitions between gaits (trot to halt, halt to trot or canter, etc etc), including back-up, change in direction (turns on the hind is what I would use), etc. I even do western rollbacks (but from a dressage angle) with my primary OTTB (not the one above) to get him sitting back more and more "hovercraft" and ready to respond to my next request.

PS. I never ride in gloves either, just for the simple fact that I feel I have a touch better feel and awareness without them. That is just my personal observation with myself however, others claim they have the same feel and awareness, but it is something to keep in mind. The other thing to keep in mind is a conscious awareness of softness. If you do not keep on top of yourself about it, it stays unconscious and you might be apt to be dragged into the vicious cycle that is leaning/pulling.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 13, 2011, 04:08 PM
...It's going to be a process, cause she is very strong, and I don't think realizes as easiuly as I do, when he is starting to pull. ...

This is where the web reins and no gloves helped me. It gave me a bit more awareness of when the mare started to pull. Also, if she's finding herself constantly adjusting her reins shorter (as he pulls them out of her hands), have her use that as a reminder to soften.

Eclectic Horseman
Jan. 13, 2011, 06:10 PM
This is where the web reins and no gloves helped me. It gave me a bit more awareness of when the mare started to pull. Also, if she's finding herself constantly adjusting her reins shorter (as he pulls them out of her hands), have her use that as a reminder to soften.

Actually, pulling the reins out of the hands is a separate but related problem. When the horse is able to lengthen the rein on his own, this is positive reinforcement of his leaning habit, and he will keep trying to get more rein.

But the solution really is to get more bend in the elbow and get the elbow back directly over the hip. In that way, the horse pulls the whole arm forward and cannot lengthen the rein. My guess is that she is riding with her elbows in front of her body without a sufficient bend in them. She needs to learn to carry her hands and keep her elbows close by her side over her hips so that the horse cannot pull the reins through her fingers.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 13, 2011, 08:37 PM
Actually, pulling the reins out of the hands is a separate but related problem. When the horse is able to lengthen the rein on his own, this is positive reinforcement of his leaning habit, and he will keep trying to get more rein.

But the solution really is to get more bend in the elbow and get the elbow back directly over the hip. In that way, the horse pulls the whole arm forward and cannot lengthen the rein. My guess is that she is riding with her elbows in front of her body without a sufficient bend in them. She needs to learn to carry her hands and keep her elbows close by her side over her hips so that the horse cannot pull the reins through her fingers.

Oh in one that really pulls, they very well can pull the reins through your fingers, slowly. My hands just aren't strong enough to hold the reins tight enough to keep the reins from slowly inching through my fingers when the mare really gets to pulling.

Eclectic Horseman
Jan. 14, 2011, 09:22 AM
Oh in one that really pulls, they very well can pull the reins through your fingers, slowly. My hands just aren't strong enough to hold the reins tight enough to keep the reins from slowly inching through my fingers when the mare really gets to pulling.


I used to think that too. It is only true if you do not have your hands closed around the reins. If your hands (fingers) are open, then the reins will just slide through.

But if you have your thumb firmly pressed on the rein and your hand is closed in a fist, then look at it this way: If you have a proper bend in your elbow and it is directly under your shoulder at your side and anchored to your hip, then the horse will first have to pull your arm all the way forward and straighten the elbow out before he can pull the reins through your hands.

There is no way that you can hold a normal amount of dressage contact with just your hands. You need to connect your hands and wrists to your arms and anchor them with your core. If you have a really good position, then the horse would have to pull you right out of the saddle. ;)

goeslikestink
Jan. 14, 2011, 04:55 PM
We have an 8 y.o. Irish Horse who is built level at best. He hs the typical Irish head, long neck that joins low into his chest. He is short coupled, and big. 17.1 and somewhat heavy, though certainly not extreme.

My daughter is 5'10", weighs about 140 and has ridden for 20 years now. She is extremely STRONG, freakishly so. She has very good abs, legs. She has a tall seat.

I have worked with dressage horses, coaches, trainers and students many decades, and most of the training tips I give her, don't seem to be doing what we need them to do.

The horse hangs. He hangs when he is engaged, when by some miracle we get him engaged, he hangs on a loose rein, he hangs he hang he hangs. She engages him, as soon as he starts to hang, throws him away, does he carry, oh no, he just drops the head right on down, and hangs on what rein she gave him, put him on a belt buckle, he will drop down to the ground, kick him forward...forward, he is lazy. We love him dearly, but we tease him routinely he is the only Irish we know that would make a wonderful western pleasure horse.

Transitiions, lunging, we have tried most everything, and in a year, of trying to be consistant in work outs, transitions, poles, he still hangs. She rides him in a loose ring snaffle, has tried a bouchet, rides him in a mylar combo for x/c, which prevents him from hanging or inverting to some degree.

He is currently doing Preliminary level events. Now, for some positives, he likes lateral movements, not as heavy that way...go figure. He will score 8's on most anything lateral, and then as soon as we try to do a circle, or go straight, guess what happens? Yup, heavy heavy heavy.

Canter is about the only gait he doesn't hang terribly in. He has a gorgeous canter....and jumping, thankfully, he uses that..

ANY suggestions? She works with a trainer, actually a couple, and the two who have been on the horse are about as frustrated as she is. One has suggested a double bridle, so that when he starts t get heavy, she immediately can fix it with minimum fuss, another says he needs to learn to go forward much better first...UGH..THANKS SO MUCH ALL.

if shes that strong then shes riding how she writes tell her to give as in her give on her strongest side then he wont advade you on the other side and hang as it were
take a gander at my helpful links pages and read all off page one and links
especally link 4- 9 under dressage bits and bridles
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178116

Hampton Bay
Jan. 14, 2011, 08:01 PM
I used to think that too. It is only true if you do not have your hands closed around the reins. If your hands (fingers) are open, then the reins will just slide through.

But if you have your thumb firmly pressed on the rein and your hand is closed in a fist, then look at it this way: If you have a proper bend in your elbow and it is directly under your shoulder at your side and anchored to your hip, then the horse will first have to pull your arm all the way forward and straighten the elbow out before he can pull the reins through your hands.

There is no way that you can hold a normal amount of dressage contact with just your hands. You need to connect your hands and wrists to your arms and anchor them with your core. If you have a really good position, then the horse would have to pull you right out of the saddle. ;)

Oh I definitely ride with my fingers opened a bit. For me, keeping my hands closed makes me tense up my shoulders, so it's been lower on my list of things to fix. I have some never issues in my hands (the one that runs between the pinky and rings fingers) that makes keeping my hands closed all the way a bit difficult.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 14, 2011, 08:20 PM
Oh I definitely ride with my fingers opened a bit. For me, keeping my hands closed makes me tense up my shoulders, so it's been lower on my list of things to fix. I have some never issues in my hands (the one that runs between the pinky and rings fingers) that makes keeping my hands closed all the way a bit difficult.

think of pinching the rein to the side of your pointer finger with your thumb. I found using laced reins for a while and sort of bracing my thumbnail against one of the laces made me more conscious, eliminated the tension in my shoulder, and allowed the rest of my fingers to drape and support.

princessfluffybritches
Jan. 14, 2011, 09:07 PM
I try to never get into a pulling match. If my horse starts pulling, I plant my hands on my pommel and let him pull against himself, no matter how long it takes, and just keep making him go forward. No pulling, no fighting, no argument-from me.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 14, 2011, 09:26 PM
think of pinching the rein to the side of your pointer finger with your thumb. I found using laced reins for a while and sort of bracing my thumbnail against one of the laces made me more conscious, eliminated the tension in my shoulder, and allowed the rest of my fingers to drape and support.

That's what I have been doing. But my point was, if you find yourself holding to the point where the reins slip out of your hands, use that as a reminder to stop holding.

My issue is my ring finger. I can't keep it closer without it making my hands start to go numb. So I just don't.

Eclectic Horseman
Jan. 15, 2011, 07:15 AM
That's what I have been doing. But my point was, if you find yourself holding to the point where the reins slip out of your hands, use that as a reminder to stop holding.

My issue is my ring finger. I can't keep it closer without it making my hands start to go numb. So I just don't.

You can always stop holding the rein between your pinkie and ring fingers. That is only one method of hold a snaffle rein. Another method is to let the rein go on the outside of your pinkie, up through your fist and anchored between your thumb and forefinger. This is commonly where the snaffle rein goes when you use the double (although there are other methods, too.)

If necessary to accommodate your physical disability, you can also get reins with built in loops that will give you a handle

http://www.freedomrider.com/Reins-Adaptive-Adjustable-Handle-Rein-Bows-Loops.html

If I had a physical disability that prevented me from doing something correctly, then I would change reins or method of holding the reins rather than give the horse control of the rein length. You will not make any progress unless your horse accepts the bit and you have control of the length and placement of his neck.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 15, 2011, 12:55 PM
It's really not a big deal. I can keep my middle finger tight, just not my ring finger. And the reins slipping through my hands only happens when the mare is pulling on me, and it happens very slowly. So for me, it's a good reminder that I need to get her softer and more correct, because when she's not leaning, there is no issue with the reins slipping.

I can't keep my pinky closed tight either. The nerve that controls the ring finger also controls the pinky. So keeping the middle finger tight works fine for me, and it gives me an extra reminder to keep the mare from using me as a support.

Doctracy
Jan. 15, 2011, 02:31 PM
It's really not a big deal. I can keep my middle finger tight, just not my ring finger. And the reins slipping through my hands only happens when the mare is pulling on me, and it happens very slowly. So for me, it's a good reminder that I need to get her softer and more correct, because when she's not leaning, there is no issue with the reins slipping.

I can't keep my pinky closed tight either. The nerve that controls the ring finger also controls the pinky. So keeping the middle finger tight works fine for me, and it gives me an extra reminder to keep the mare from using me as a support.
I have nerve damage from a broken neck. My OTTB is very light, as are all of my horses, as a result of being trained by me. I have almost no triceps or muscles in my hands. No amount of exercise will change this, since the nerves don't innervate the muscles.
I ride my TB withe a Mikmar combination bridle, double reins when hunting. I've somehow learned to coordinate my fingers enough to contol this.
A few years ago I had to borrow a hunt horse as mine was hurt. Holy, moly! I had no idea how light my horses are! I was pulled practically out of my saddle by this 17.2 hand monster! The next day I borrowed a very small pony, I couldn't take anymore pulling.
Point of this is, the horse will learn to be light if you ride him light. I have three horses and they are all light, even my OTTB, who I started shortly after my injury, straight after he came off the track. If you pull back and pull, pull, pull, he will continue. If you have nothing for him to pull on he will lighten up.
Now, I'm giving lessons to some very beginner riders who don't understand a following hand yet. My horses, used to my soft hand, will start resisting with these riders, pulling and rooting their noses, getting upset because they give to the bit and continue to get pulled on, they don't understand why they are being punished. I teach the kids to follow by holdig the reins in my hands and having them walk with me, giving and taking with each step. You can also teach them with reins of yarn on a good old school horse.
I've seen a lot of dressage riders in the lower levels who seem to fix their hands and call it a half-halt. I'm not understanding this concept. Driving the horse up into a fixed rein and not providing some relief, there is no reward in that. I watched Jane Savoie's video last night, that is certainly not the way she teaches the half-halt. The horse becomes sour when being constantly driven, being told to go and whoa all the time without relit. Or, he gets heavy on the front and doesn't learn self-carriage.
When I watch the upper level riders, their hands are usually soft and forgiving, educated hands, not fixed and pulling.

Dappled Grey
Jan. 16, 2011, 07:01 PM
Lots of very good and interesting answers to this good and interesting question. I've dealt with this situation quite a bit with my young horse and the mental mantra that has worked best for me is "be quicker!" George says this in the 2011 horsemastership sessions too. Expect a quick response, correct quickly if you don't get it, keep the work interesting by being able to quickly change to a new exercise if things are feeling dull. As an adult amateur who wedges riding between many other activities and responsibilities, it is not always easy to show up to ride and have my "quick" brain on, but when I do, it makes a world of difference. Over time, I have adapted to it and so has my horse.